[Volume of devotional engravings with extensive commentary in French]
- Publication date
- Digitizing sponsor
- The Arcadia Fund
- The Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries
8vo. 71 engraved plates by the Klauber brothers, with ff. (68) of manuscript text, as follows: 56 numbered plates from the Lauretanische Litaney (see below), with (57) text leaves, written on rectos and versos in brown ink in a clear 18th-century hand; 4 mounted engravings of emblematic Marian engravings; 11 engraved plates on the Life of St. Teresa, interleaved with French translations of the Latin captions on the versos; (6) blanks. Bound in contemporary French mottled sheep, flat spine gold-tooled in compartments with red goatskin lettering piece (Litanie de la Vierge), red edges, marbled endleaves (spine defective at foot, joints cracked). Censorship of Mary’s breast causing small hole on pl. 13, pl. 18 with rubbing (deliberate?) affecting her face. (Trimmed by the binder, with loss of most plate numbers, several manuscript headings and line endings shaved, possible loss to a line of text on f. (3)r, show through and some staining to manuscript headlines from acidic ink.)
An interesting manuscript containing an original unpublished interpretative commentary on a popular suite of emblematic engravings celebrating the many names and honorifics of the Virgin. The manuscript combines iconographical analysis and meditative prayer. The engravings were produced by Johann Sebastian (ca. 1700-1768) and Johann Baptist (1712-after 1787) Klauber of Augsburg, whose publishing house, founded in 1740, was one of the most prolific 18th-century sources of devotional prints and book illustrations for South Germany and even abroad. The two brothers worked in concert and signed their engravings as one (Klauber Cath. Sc. et exc. A.V. [Augustae Vindelicorum]).
Among the Klaubers’ most successful works is this graphic Litany of Loreto, a series of 56 engravings created to illustrate Franz Xaver Dorn (or Dornn)’s Lauretanische Litaney, first published in Augsburg by Johann Baptist Burckhart in 1749. Dorn’s text consisted of a meditation on each of the Klauber engravings, and it was the images that conferred a long life on his work, with over a dozen more editions, including translations into French, Spanish, and English, illustrated with reprints or copies of the Klauber plates, appearing into the 19th century. These visually complex images, often in multiple compartments, include numerous typological references, and the scenes are set within or adorned with rocaille frames and ornaments, acanthus leaves, palmettes, shells, cornucopias, etc.
The Klauber firm operated on a quasi-industrial production scale: the engravings were produced on large sheets which were cut up, as is evident from the black lines visible along the edges of the plates in some copies. Their uneven aesthetic quality may be attributed to the use of several different artists for the drawings (unidentified in the engravings, although a few have been attributed to Gottfried Bernhard Göz: see P. Stoll, “Zweites Augsburger Rokoko: Die Lauretanische Litanei der Brüder Klauber und ihre Rezeption in Frankreich” (2013, published online), p. 6). The idée maîtresse for the suite had been supplied by the Augsburg Jesuit Ulrich Probst, who died in 1748. Probst’s role was alluded to by Dorn in his introduction, and although his name appears on the first plate (signed R.P. Udal Probst S. I. invenit), it has often been inattentively misattributed to the unrelated engraver Georg Balthasar Probst.
Following the 1749 edition, a new set of plates was reengraved for the first Latin edition (Litaniae Lauretanae ad beatae Virginis) of 1750, and it is those copperplates which appear here (Stoll incorrectly states that the engravings of the 1749 and 1750 editions are the same). There is some variation in the engravings used in the various editions; in this manuscript the series follows the order of the 1771 edition almost exactly. But the Klaubers also sold these plates separately, as is evidenced by this manuscript and a few other known copies of the plates alone (see W. Augustyn, “Augsburger Buchillustration im 18. Jahrhundert,” in: Augsburger Buchdruck und Verlagswesen von den Anfangen bis zur Gegegenwart (1997), pp. 837, note 221).
The text opens with a two-page description of the many figures in the first engraving, which symbolizes the entire Litany, and was used as the frontispiece in the printed editions. The writer seems not to have felt the need for a title, as there are no signs of subtracted leaves. Filled with irregular spellings but neatly written, the manuscript text is neither a translation nor a paraphrase of Dorn’s work, although it follows the same structure, the commentary of each engraving beginning with a description of the imagery on the rectos and ending with a prayer on the versos, the rectos and versos headed in large letters with respectively the engraving’s Latin title and its French translation. Our anonymous commentator holds far more closely to the image than Dorn’s meditative text, and provides more consistently detailed information on the iconography, including identification of peripheral figures, attributes, and the meanings of actions and gestures, and translations into French of the captions and the many Latin biblical citations which are integrated, often at bizarre angles, into the images. Following this principal section are four mounted plates of scenes from the life of the Virgin and related Old Testament scenes. The signature lines are cut away, but other copies of this short suite, which seems to be complete in four plates, bear the Klaubers’ signature. Concluding the album are 11 engravings (of 14?) from a series on the life of Teresa of Avila, the first of which, showing Teresa in front of a zodiac bearing two all-seeing eyes, is titled “Vita S.V. et M. Theresiae à Jesu Solis Zodiaco Parallela.” In this section, apparently unfinished, a second writer, possessing a very neat, small feminine hand, has provided on the facing leaves French translations of the Latin captions of each engraving, in precisely the positions in which the captions appear in the plates. This last part suggests that this volume could have belonged to a nun, possibly a Carmelite.
Texts running into gutters.
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